President Trump has decided to delay an increase in tariffs on Chinese goods that were to take place on March 2. Last Sunday, Trump tweeted that “substantial progress in our trade talks with China on important structural issues including intellectual property protection, technology transfer, agriculture, services, currency, and many other issues. [...] Assuming both sides make additional progress, we will be planning a Summit for President Xi and myself, at Mar-a-Lago, to conclude an agreement.”
Before Trump’s announcement, the current tariffs of 10% on $200 billion of Chinese goods were scheduled to increase to 25% if there was no agreement by March 1.
U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer told the House Ways and Means Committee there needs to be much more work to be done with China on trade issues. At the hearing he said, “Let me be clear: Much still needs to be done both before an agreement is reached and, more importantly, after it is reached, if one is reached.” A key area the negotiators are working on is structural issues (intellectual property, technology transfer, etc.) and to make sure what is agreed to is enforceable. They are also working on Sanitary and Phytosanitary issues affecting agriculture.
The World Trade Organization ruled this week in favor of the U.S. in its complaint against China alleging unfair subsidies for Chinese rice and wheat. The complaint had been filed with the WTO by the Obama administration.
Rural economy & farm bill implementation
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue appeared before both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to discuss the state of the rural economy and farm bill implementation. Perdue told the committees that the issues he hears most about from producers are trade, labor, regulations and disaster assistance.
State of rural economy: He reminded the committees of the tough farm economy: net farm income has dropped approximately 50% since 2013; commodity prices have fallen over the past 5 years as global stock levels have increased; working capital has decreased by 70% since 2012; and farm debt has increased 30% since 2013. USDA is estimating 2019 net farm income at $77.6 billion.
Farm bill implementation: Perdue said USDA is working diligently to implement the 2018 farm bill. A priority is implementing the new dairy safety-net with sign-up beginning on June 17. USDA plans a Sept.1 sign-up for the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs. This will be the first time since 2014 producers will be able to switch participation in these programs. Conservation Reserve Program general enrollment sign-up is expected to begin on Dec. 1. Hemp regulations are not expected to be ready until 2020.
USMCA Coalition announced
A coalition of over 200 organizations and businesses representing agriculture, manufacturing and other industries announced the formation of the USMCA Coalition that will work for Congressional approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The coalition will “work to educate the American public about the benefits of the new deal” and press Congress to pass the agreement soon.
Members include American Farm Bureau Federation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ADM, American Soybean Association, Business Roundtable, Cargill, Caterpillar, John Deere, National Corn Growers Association, National Grain and Feed, National Milk Producers, National Oilseed Processors Association, National Pork Producers Council and U.S. Apple Association.
Dietary Guideline Committee named
USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services have named 20 individuals to serve on the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The committee will review scientific evidence on topics and questions identified by USDA and HHS. DGAC will submit a report on their findings to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of HHS which will be used to help develop the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The DGA is used to update federal nutrition programs and policies every five years.
The committee members are:
- Jamy Ard, MD – Wake Forest School of Medicine
- Regan Bailey, PhD, MPH, RD – Purdue University
- Lydia Bazzano, MD, PhD – Tulane University and Ochsner Health System
- Carol Boushey, PhD, MPH, RD – University of Hawaii
- Teresa Davis, PhD – Baylor College of Medicine
- Kathryn Dewey, PhD – University of California, Davis
- Sharon Donovan, PhD, RD – University of Illinois, Urbana
- Steven Heymsfield, MD – Louisiana State University, Pennington Biomedical Research Center
- Ronald Kleinman, MD – Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
- Heather Leidy, PhD – University of Texas at Austin (Summer 2019)
- Richard Mattes, PhD, MPH, RD – Purdue University
- Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, RD – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Timothy Naimi, MD, MPH – Boston University
- Rachel Novotny, PhD, RDN, LD – University of Hawaii
- Joan Sabaté, DrPH, MD – Loma Linda University
- Barbara Schneeman, PhD – University of California, Davis
- Linda Snetselaar, PhD, RD – University of Iowa
- Jamie Stang, PhD – University of Minnesota
- Elsie Taveras, MD, MPH – Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard Chan School of Public Health
- Linda Van Horn, PhD, RDN, LD – Northwestern University
EPA administrator confirmed
The Senate yesterday confirmed Andrew Wheeler as Environmental Protection Agency administrator by a vote of 52-47. Wheeler has been serving as acting EPA administrator since last summer when Scott Pruitt resigned.